LEON: Creating impact through digital transformation

All, Casual Dining & Quick-Service, Digital Ordering, Products

September 21, 2022

What would fast food be like in heaven?

That was the question asked by LEON’s co-founders John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby as they ran the gauntlet of greasy fast food options while traveling for work. Bloated and unsatisfied, they decided to reinvent fast food with a restaurant chain that not only provides delicious, healthy options, but is kind to the planet as well.

That was back in 2004. Since then, LEON has grown to include 70 restaurants across the UK and Europe. It remains true to its founding principles: To make fast food good food while ensuring a positive impact on the planet and its people. It champions plant-based food options, insists upon ethical supply chains, and demands sustainability from all its partners. It’s also the first restaurant chain in the UK to offer a totally carbon neutral burger.

Ultimately, LEON wants to empower its guests to do good by choosing more sustainable food options, consuming fair trade products, and supporting its charity partner, Bags of Taste“We see LEON as a community of people. It involves our suppliers, it involves our restaurant team, but it also involves our customers. Our customers advocate for change and hold us accountable and we want to encourage them to do the same.” Hugo Engel, Digital Executive, LEON.

To learn more about LEON’s ambitions and the digital transformation project that will help realise them, we sat down with Hugo from LEON and the team at Adyen. Watch the video for the full story. Keep scrolling for more details.

The challenge: Knowing and inspiring customers

LEON wants to ensure everyone has access to good, naturally fast food. To achieve this, it’s rapidly expanding with 40 new restaurants in the UK, 10 in the Netherlands, and its first drive-through in West Yorkshire.

To maintain its rapid growth and ensure ongoing scalability LEON has gone digital. Hugo was hired to oversee LEON’s digital transformation, a key step to maintaining its rapid growth and ensuring ongoing sustainability. A big part of this is digitising the ordering process so that guests can order via an in-store kiosk or with their phone using the LEON app. This has involved a lot of trialling and experimentation in order to create a new digitally-enabled LEON. So it needed strong technology partners.

Another challenge for LEON was how to keep track of its guests as they moved across different restaurants and sales channels. As Hugo explained:

“We’d have hundreds of thousands of guests coming through our restaurants and no idea who they were. We had no way of tracking whether they’d ever been to LEON before and, if they had, how many times. When we open a new store, are we constantly attracting new guests? Or are we building a new base of regular customers? More than ever, having good data, insights on our customer shopping habits and demographics is really crucial to the business. So we needed partners that could help us connect the dots.”

And finally, to support LEON’s mission to make a positive impact, it wanted a solution that would make it simple for guests to donate to its chosen cause, Bags of Taste.

Vita Mojo is an extremely close partner of LEON. We started working with them when I joined two and a half years ago and we were looking for a digital ordering partner. Through our partnership, Vita Mojo has created large screen kiosks and a mobile app. So you can download our LEON Club app on your phone and order LEON or pre-order from any of our restaurants.
Hugo Engel
Digital Executive, LEON

The solution: Digital ordering with Vita Mojo and payment with Adyen

Bringing payments into the mix, Vita Mojo introduced LEON to Adyen. Their combined technology has formed the basis of the new digitally enabled LEON model. 

“Within a week, thanks to Adyen’s shopper tokenization, we were able to see whether guests had visited the restaurant before and, if so, how many times.”

“We partnered with Adyen because it offers secure, reliable technology. No matter what channel people are buying, whether it’s on mobile or on the kiosk or on ecommerce, Adyen can deal with all of it. And the magic of Adyen being omnichannel, (unlike a fragmented payment solution) is all the data you get. No matter where the customer shops, our partnership with Adyen lets us provide a 360-degree view back to LEON.” Nick Popovici, CEO, Vita Mojo.

To enable donations at checkout, Adyen Giving was implemented so guests can choose to donate to Bags of Taste directly from the payment terminal.

“We want to make it easy for guests to do good in the world,” said Hugo. “And I think that’s one of the advantages of Giving is that it’s literally there on the payment terminal and you can just simply tap on the amount you want to choose and touch your card again to donate. All that money then goes directly to the charity’s account and Adyen absorbs the processing fee. Literally 100% of your donation goes to the charity, which is very unusual. Now, we’re also responding to the crisis in Ukraine, using Giving to also enable our guests to donate to a charity which is helping refugees.”

The results: Insights and impact

LEON’s new digital ordering set-up has already yielded great results. “Digital ordering has delivered significantly higher satisfaction, higher spend, and higher frequency of visits,” said Nick. “This has prompted LEON to review its entire operating model to be digital-first.”

And from a data perspective, LEON  has a much better view of its customers. As Hugo explained: “Within a week, thanks to Adyen’s shopper tokenization, we were able to see whether guests had visited the restaurant before and, if so, how many times. On a business level, we can see what percentage of our guests are new, what percentage are returning, and what our order frequency is. Those are really crucial insights, especially in such a dynamically changing landscape like hospitality.”

And finally, Giving is making a real, tangible impact for Bags of Taste, generating almost £15,500 in revenue since February 2021.

Future-focused tech partners

As LEON continues to bring good fast food to people in more locations, Adyen and Vita Mojo look forward to supporting the brand. For LEON, it’s hugely valuable that all three partners are so aligned in terms of ethos and vision.

“LEON, Adyen, and Vita Mojo all want to disrupt the spaces that we’re in,” said Hugo. “At LEON, we want to disrupt the fast food space, Adyen the payment space, and Vita Mojo the hospitality industry. We all have this shared mission of wanting to come up with innovative ways to improve the guest experience. Ultimately, this enables us to give guests the experience they want while fulfilling our values and purpose as a business.”

And together, Vita Mojo and Adyen will continue to collaborate to provide the best possible solution to hospitality businesses.

“What really excites me about the partnership with Adyen is just how much is coming in the pipeline,” said Nick. “The sheer amount of innovation and products that are going to be launched in the coming period is really exciting. We’re on this big journey where hospitality businesses are going from offline to online. They’re transforming their customer experiences and there’s going to be growing reliance on technology partners. So I’m really excited for what’s in store.”

Curious to learn more? Get in touch for a chat